California Department of Transportation

California Pavement Life Cycle Assessment

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an approach to quantify the environmental impacts of industrial products and processes, and part of an LCA’s value lies in its capacity to provide decision makers with a comprehensive perspective for considering new projects. In 2009, the UCPRC began work with national and international partners to develop a framework for LCA for pavement. The goals of this project are to develop a tool for performing pavement LCA and to provide government policy makers with new insights for decisions concerning pavement projects and policy.

Participants in a May 2010 workshop discussed the proposed pavement LCA framework and addressed key questions about how to practice LCA and how apply its results. Two publications resulting from the workshop are now available for download and comment: the UCPRC Pavement LCA Guideline and the UCPRC Pavement LCA Workshop Discussion Summary. The Guideline provides basic instructions for pavement LCA studies and to satisfy the study’s transparency requirement. The Summary synopsizes key questions and discussions about LCA practice and decision-making regarding the framework developed during the workshop.

The Pavement Life Cycle

The study’s two next steps include development of a pavement LCA model based on the proposed framework and data source, and use of this model to support decision-making regarding initial policy questions. This work is funded by Caltrans and the University of California Multi-campus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI) program. This work is also part of the MIRIAM (Models for Rolling Resistance in Road Infrastructure Asset management Systems) project, a California and European consortium that focuses on the optimization of road surfaces to minimize total fuel consumption.

Related Link: UCPRC Pavement LCA Workshop Discussion Summary